Monopoly Controls in Organized Sport

July 27, 1951

Report Outline
Restraints Imposed in Spectator Sports
Necessity of Centralized Regulation
Status of Sports Under Antitrust Laws
Special Focus

The Legality of certain restrictive practices in organized sports—practices which have been challenged repeatedly in recent years—may now be on the way to final determination either by the courts or by Congress. Most controversial of present issues in this field are the player contracts peculiar to professional sports and the limitations on radio and television coverage of sporting events. Despite considerable litigation in the past, doubt still surrounds the status under the antitrust laws of these and other restrictions imposed in the name of athletic competition and the financial welfare of organized sports.

Baseball will undergo an exhaustive investigation by the monopoly sub-committee of the House Judiciary Committee. Chairman Celler (D., N. Y.) has announced that Ty Cobb, a baseball immortal, will be the first witness. He will be followed on the stand by National League President Ford Frick, other baseball officials, and former Commissioner A. B. (Happy) Chandler. The hearings, scheduled to open on July 30, are to be suspended on Aug. 10 until after the World Series in October, when active players and others interested in baseball will be heard. In its study of monopolistic practices, the sub-committee will consider proposals that baseball and other professional sports be specifically exempted from prosecution under the federal antitrust laws.

The Department of Justice meanwhile is continuing an investigation, announced May 23, into restraints imposed by organized sports on radio broadcasting and television. This investigation has been extended to amateur sports because of the decision of the National Collegiate Athletic Association to suspend unlimited telecasting of college football games. The University of Pennsylvania, which opposed the N.C.A.A. program of limited telecasting, threatened to defy the ruling and to continue transmission of all its home games. The possibility of triple-damage suits against colleges which refuse to honor game commitments with Perm was removed by the announcement, July 19, that the protesting university would go along with the program.

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Jul. 27, 1951  Monopoly Controls in Organized Sport
Antitrust and Monopolies
Regulation and Deregulation
Sports and Recreation